Image via Apple

Apple announced today that it will be launching an Independent Repair Provider (IRP) Program in order to offer customers “additional options for the most common out-of-warranty iPhone repairs.” Essentially, this will make genuine Apple parts, tools and resources available for purchase by qualified independent repair shops (following successful application to their free program). The only listed requirements are that the shop be a legitimate repair business in a commercially-zoned area, and that technicians be Apple-certified (certifications are offered online and test fees are waived for approved IRP businesses).

It goes without saying that this is BIG news- but whether or not it is good news remains to be seen. Personally, we want to see a detailed terms of service agreement before making any judgements, but as of yet, not a lot of information has been made available. Based on their history with 3rd-party repair, it’s understandable if people go into this a bit cautiously. That said, there are a couple of positive outlooks here. First, it appears as though Apple is shifting in their approach towards right-to-repair sentiments. Their motives are anyone’s guess, but either way, we feel that access to OEM resources is a net-good for repair. Second, it's possible that this will reduce the number of people opting for AppleCare plans. Again, only time will tell by how much, but less AppleCare purchases, means more potential customers for repair shops, which is another net-good.

For now, we’ll be in the cautiously-optimistic camp. We want this to be a good thing for the industry, but at the same time, it's hard to trust a pro-repair policy from a company that has consistently fought unauthorized repair. We’ll keep an eye out for new developments and we’ll be sure to notify you as things progress.